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Swans



With their first EP release in 1982, The Swans emerged from the dark and noisy NYC underground, alongside Sonic Youth and Lydia Lunch. This came at a time when New York legends Suicide and London-based Aussies The Birthday Party were both approaching the conclusion of their reigns of twisted, avant-garde flatline belligerence. It was also a time when Joy Division and Bauhaus were concluding their dissemination of the goth infection to the world. All of these seminal bands' sounds would manifest themselves to some degree in the music of the Swans.

Starting in 1983 with Filth, the Swans almost annually released detached and evil albums filled with imagery inspired by the greediness of organized religion and the corruption of the establishment. After 1984's Cop and 1985's Greed, female co-lead singer Jarboe became a new constant in the group, joining Michael Gira and the rest of the band. Jarboe brought with her gentler and more ethereal textures which began seeping into the group's repertoire with 1986's Holy Money and the acclaimed 1987 album Children of God.

The Swans were a brutally slow and alienating tribal death march. They drew upon the basic human emotions of fear, anger, and sadness with a sound that could never be mistaken or dismissed. They were often hated, feared, and shunned, and occasionally they were loved and embraced, but they were never overlooked or forgotten because it's in the nature of their music to invoke powerful emotion. There are countless accounts of the life-changing experience of attending a Swans show and hearing their powerful sound live. So it's fitting to offer a track here from the Atavistic rerelease of a long out-of-print live double album from the Swans 1987 Children Of God European tour.

After a 1988 U.K. hit with a cover of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart," the Swans signed to MCA Records and continued to release albums every year, even teetering on the brink of mainstream accessibility at times. Even while amassing sixteen albums worth of material (including live albums) plus singles and other peripheral releases, the group continued to tour with a rotating lineup of sonic terror. In 1996 The Swans recorded their last studio album, the fantastic Soundtracks For The Blind. As new fans contuinue to discover and celebrate the work of the Swans, Gira's record label Young God Records has reissued many of their great albums. Young God is also involved with a smattering of other projects, including Gira's current group, the beautiful and of course dark Angels of Light.